SCOP hosts her for event on campus
Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP) welcomed Michelle Alleva, a woman who detransitioned after 10 years of identifying as a man, to share her testimony on October 13.
Alleva was severely and constantly bullied as a child and always felt “different.” She asserts that developmental trauma as a child changed the trajectory of her life. In a blog post, she wrote, “My personality completely changed. I went from a loud, fierce, opinionated child to a passive, shy teenager with low self-esteem.” Her trauma led to anxiety and depression, which further manifested in self harm and dissociation.
After years of social rejection, Alleva turned to social media, where she began to connect with the online LGBTQ community. At this time, she began more seriously considering her body and how she wanted to present herself. Though she never previously had gender dysphoria, her increasing self-awareness inspired a desire to change her body.
She kept searching for answers online, and her transgender suspicions were constantly affirmed. She was told “only transgender people think so much about transitioning” and “all transgender people have doubts about transitioning.”
These reassurances prompted her to seek medical transition, and she started taking testosterone in 2010 and received a double mastectomy in 2012. Her mental health improved for a short time, but then it declined. In 2017, after years of struggling through job loss, anxiety, and depression, she decided to take a Fulsome Psychoeducational Assessment. The assessment revealed that Michelle suffered from autism, ADHD, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and major depressive disorder.
She continued to identify as transgender and had a partial hysterectomy in 2018, barring her from ever having children.
In 2020, she realized her psychological diagnoses explain many of her life struggles better than being transgender does, and she began identifying as female again. Though she is no longer taking medication, she suffers lasting effects from her 10-year transition. She has male-pattern balding, a deeper voice, and a permanent incapacity to carry or feed children.
Approximately 65 students gathered in the Carey Auditorium to hear Alleva tell her story. Attendee Evan Bursch described the talk as “unquestionably one of the most powerful witnesses” he has ever heard. He explained: “Students had the privilege of hearing from someone who decided to transition and detransition. The majority of the time, talks like this—either supporting or cautioning against transitioning—involve only people who have never experienced it.”
He elaborated, “The speaker was able to powerfully convey the heartache, unrest, and emotional scars that contributed to her transition. She brought to light the complexities and misconceptions perpetuated by society regarding what it means to be human and what it is to be a man or woman.”
Co-president of SCOP Kylie Gallegos felt this narrative deserved attention: “These are people who have experienced the horrors of what we’re fighting against, and they’re always silenced, and I want to give them a platform to tell their story.”
Gallegos grappled with the reality of bringing such a controversial event to campus. She worried it would not be received well: “I didn’t want it to seem like I was using anybody … not everyone is going to see that what we’re doing is not hate.” Despite her doubt, she decided to reach out to Genspect, an alliance that aims to promote evidence-based care for those with gender distress, and they connected her with Alleva.
After the event, Gallegos told the Rover her doubts about holding the event “totally disappeared because [Michelle’s] story was so compelling and heartbreaking.”
Gallegos said, “Even though [holding these events] is unpopular, and it’s not seen as the nice thing to do … if you think about what love is as willing the good of another, this is the most loving thing that we can be doing.”
She explained, “[SCOP] wants to always present the truth in love … We want to have events like Michelle’s because we love trans people, and we want them to live in freedom and in accordance with their true selves, and we know that that can never be by pretending to be someone that you’re not.”
SCOP members attended the annual Sexuality, Integrity, and the University National Collegiate Conference at Princeton October 28-30 in preparation for their inaugural “Marriage Week” in late November. SCOP also plans to host a retreat for students from broken families. More information will be posted on SCOP’s Instagram page, @scop_nd.
Madeline Murphy is a sophomore studying music and theology. Please send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or better yet, ask her to converse over a cup of coffee.
Photo credit: SCOP officers pose with speaker, Michelle Alleva. Photo courtesy Catalina Scheider Galiñanes.